Expansion & Growth
Prior to 2001, only two Latin America nations - Mexico and Puerto Rico - were interested in competing for the Junior League title and, rather than hold a Latin America tournament, national champions from both countries were invited to Taylor. In 2001, Latin America for the first time held a regional tournament in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, which attracted eight nations: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Aruba, Panama, Curacao, Bahamas and Virgin Islands. Venezuela defeated Mexico for the Latin American regional championship.
Worldwide growth continued in 2001. Fourteen teams competed for the European regional championship. Poland headed to Taylor as the European champ, defeating Germany in the title game. In the regional, there were two teams from Germany (an American military base and a native team) and individual teams from Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, Belgium, The Netherlands, Romania, Saudi Arabia and Spain.
The 2001 World Series marked the first time a team from South America played in Taylor - and Maracaibo, Venezuela, made it to the finals. That year also marked the debut for teams from Poland and Saipan.
Aiea, Hawaii, made history in 2001, becoming the first team to win back-to-back world championships in the Junior League. In 2001, Aiea defeated Venezuela, 6-5, in a thrilling, come-from-behind contest that was won in the bottom of the eighth inning. The year before, Aiea defeated Langley, British Columbia, Canada, in the finals, 2-1. Hawaiian teams have won the world title four times.